Places that don’t exist: Transnistria

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You’ll most likely never heard of this “country” before; that’s because it’s not recognised by the U.N. or any other country in the world. It’s simply a breakaway region of Moldova but is now governed by the Russian army and believe me you could really tell.

Unfortunately during the time of the Soviet Union I never got to visit any part but I can only imagine Transnistria is what it would have been like; grey, miserable and with some hideous Soviet architecture

Well thankfully there’s always a positive that can be found in any negative; my Moldovan guide was lovely although she got quite offended when I said Transnistria was one of the only places I had time to visit on my Moldovan trip. So when you visit Moldova, make sure this isn’t your only stop as they don’t class this as part of their country.

This place is a proper throw back to the 1980’s, it felt very uneasy with the police and army everywhere. They don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart, personally I thought it was beyond corrupt, it’s a well-known route into Europe for drugs and other illegal items; but let’s not go there!

Transnistria has its own banks, currency, government and apparently if rumour is to be believed a huge amount of heavy weapons, but that isn’t for me to speculate!

I was advised that due to tight security I wouldn’t be allowed to take photos of many places, so unfortunately a lot of my photos were taken from the car.

A famous site in Transnistria, along with the rest of the ex-Soviet Union

A famous site in Transnistria, along with the rest of the ex-Soviet Union

Tiraspol

To the majority of the world, Tiraspol is recognised as the second largest city in Moldova, however in Transnistria it’s known as the capital of their region.

It won't win any prizes for the Capital of Culture anytime soon sadly...

It won’t win any prizes for the Capital of Culture anytime soon sadly…

Walking around Tiraspol you’ll see a large number of monuments and statues dedicated to various wars, the Soviet era and even Lenin.

As previously mentioned it’s an uneasy place to be, nothing feels very safe and the locals have a very Soviet-attitude so don’t expect a smile!

Let’s just put it this way – it won’t be appearing as the Capital of Culture anytime soon!

Transnistria

Bender (a.k.a Bendery/Tighina) 

One of the more interesting places to see in Transnistria is Bender Fortress. Very close to the Moldovan border, it’s on high alert and is located in a buffer zone.

Bender Fortress

Bender Fortress

In 1538, during the Ottoman period, it was decided to create a fortress to force pressure onto Moldavia. When I visited I was the only person in the entire fortress, it wasn’t much of a surprise but there were no other tourists! It was a surreal feeling, if I hadn’t have hired a guide from Moldova there would have been no one else who could speak English; so beware of this if you plan to visit solo.

Just one of the torture instruments

Just one of the torture instruments

Just one of the torture instruments

Just one of the torture instruments

One of the first things you’ll notice as you drive into Bender is the huge military cemetery, you can enter but beware of police who may question you if you try to take photos.

Military Cemetery in Bender

Military Cemetery in Bender

If you buy anything in the Transnistria region it’s more than likely to be from a Sheriff company, they own practically everything including petrol stations, stadiums and supermarkets.

Sadly it was raining when I passed this sign but welcome to the Soviet Union!

Sadly it was raining when I passed this sign but welcome to the Soviet Union!

Are there any other “Places that don’t exist”?

The "Embassy" of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

The “Embassy” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Along with Transnistria (Moldova), there are three other break away regions in countries around the world. These include;

Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan/Armenia)

Abkhazia (Georgia)

South Ossetia (Georgia)

Unlike Transnistria, the three listed above are partially recognised as an independent state by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

Transnistria

Further Information

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

3 thoughts on “Places that don’t exist: Transnistria

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